Blood donations dwindle as coronavirus cases rise

OneBlood & LifeSouth say it’s still completely safe to donate

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Blood donations have started to dwindle around the country as more and more cases of the new coronavirus are being reported.

But according to OneBlood and LifeSouth, it’s completely safe to donate, and lives are depending on it.

The message from blood banks nationwide is that they desperately need donors to give. Cold and flu season had already impacted the nation’s ability to maintain its blood supply, and now increasing cases of the coronavirus threaten to paralyze blood banks even more.

”This is an urgent situation and we really need people to understand the importance of the blood supply, that this is not something that should be taken for granted. Lives depend on blood donors every single day in our communities, around the nation" said OneBlood Vice President of Communications Susan Forbes.

Forbes said since the coronavirus entered the United States, donors are afraid to give, fearing that somehow they’ll be exposed to the coronavirus -- something that’s just not true. Forbes said, in contrast, the blood donation process is safer than ever, and the need for blood is at an all-time high.

”The concern now is if we start to see the coronavirus spread further, that could further reduce the number of eligible blood donors that are available," Forbes said. “So for every person that doesn’t come in to donate that further puts the blood supply at risk.”

LifeSouth said it is taking every precaution to minimize the risk to blood donors.

“Respiratory viruses, like COVID-19, are not known to be transmitted by blood transfusion and no cases of transfusion-transmitted coronaviruses have been reported,” said LifeSouth Vice President of Medical Services Dr. Chris Lough. “The most significant risk to the blood supply posed by COVID-19 is a lack of availability due to a decrease in donations.”

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Trauma patients, cancer patients and newborn mothers are just some of the people who desperately need blood. The concern is that the U.S. could resemble China in the coming months, where blood levels have reached their lowest point in the country’s history.

”Blood donors are literally giving people a second chance to live. There is no substitute for it. And, right now, we are facing a situation where the entire nation is facing a very urgent need," Forbes said.

The situation in China has gotten so bad that blood is being sold on the black market because the supply is gone. If you are eligible to donate blood and you want to help, you can visit OneBlood’s website, LifeSouth’s website, the American Red Cross website or various plasma centers in Jacksonville.

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